Donovan disses BMO turf

LANCE HORNBY AND JACK BOLAND

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

Just as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. announced plans to fix its bad ice, its artificial soccer turf has come under fire.

After star forward Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy said yesterday that the BMO Field turf "sucks," many linked it to the decision by teammate David Beckham not to play against TFC tonight because of an ankle injury.

"It's kind of a shame, because you have a gorgeous stadium in a beautiful city and then you come out and play on this," Donovan told reporters after the Galaxy's practice. "I don't know why they decided to cut corners there but I'm not happy about it."

The new-age turf has been likened to stepping on a wet and spongy surface, which can make it hard to plant feet for the uninitiated. Beckham is worried about the stress on his damaged left ankle, which supports his famous right-footed free kicks and crosses.

MILD APOLOGY

Galaxy coach Frank Yallop smiled when told of Donovan's comments, offering a mild apology and assuring that "if (Beckham) was fit to play, he'd play on the field."

TFC has suffered a high number of injuries in its inaugural MLS season, including as many as seven starters being treated on Friday. But what role the home turf has played compared to natural grass fields is unknown.

The turf passed inspection by MLS officials (prior to TFC's first game) and by FIFA (for the under-20 World Cup). Complaints during the U-20 were minimal and, with an excellent home record, TFC players have been mum as well.

Tonight, TFC will be without forwards Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham, among others, and will use its fifth goalkeeper this season, Greek-born and Markham-raised Kenny Stamatopoulos.


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